Plants like us need nutrients. Unlike us these amazing lifeforms make their own food………….and ours! The nutrient is taken in alongside water through their roots. However, in order to extract the nutrients from the soil plants actually work alongside bacteria in the soil. There is a beautiful symbiosis here; various bacteria and soil life use stuff extruded from the plant roots and in turn make nutrients in soil accessible to the plants. We in our communities can learn a lot from these amazing, complex, and integrated systems.
Inorganic fertilizers provide the key nutrients for plants in a quick and often excessive dose which can ‘burn’ plants. Most of this excess is washed out into our water systems leading to other environmental issues. Feeding the soil (not the plant) is an alternative strategy that is more economic and efficient in the long term. Rich living soil is great at providing plants with the right nutrients, at the right time and with less waste.
So how can we make rich soil. Well, source you soil mix from an organic supplier. Then add a layer of compost, about 2“ thick, on top. This compost decreases over time so make sure you top up. Compost can be easily made at home if you have space. Alternatively bought from a local nursery and even temples have started to sell compost made on site from flowers etc! Rich soil is also a great sequester of carbon so helps a tiny drop towards decreasing CO2 and thus global warming. More significant if you have lots of land but I believe every pot counts!
A traditional, highly nutritious, organic fertilizer such as ‘jeevamrit’ or ‘red matti’ can also be used. This provides a range of macro and micro nutrients. As well as adding life to the soil. The little creatures that assist plant uptake of nutrients.
Different plants require different amounts of nutrients. Most decorative leafy pot plants are not too demanding. However, flowering plants and of course vegetables benefit the most from rich nutritious soil. So if you are growing food to eat then good healthy soil is crucial. Healthy soil also makes strong plants so less time is wasted fighting pests and diseases.